Candidates Start Filing Petitions for March Primary Election Ballot

Candidates for several offices in the March 2020 primary election lined up early Monday to turn in their petition signatures in order to appear on the ballot.

Monday marked the first day of the weeklong period in which candidates could file their nominating petitions, either at the Illinois State Board of Elections in Springfield for most races, or the Chicago Board of Elections for some Cook County offices.

Those include clerk of the Circuit Court, state's attorney, District 1 commissioner of the Board of Review, commissioners for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and Chicago ward committeepersons, according to the county clerk's office. Forty-five candidates for those offices were in line before the start time of 9 a.m., Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough tweeted Monday morning.

Meanwhile, candidates for Congress, including the Illinois' U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Dick Durbin, filed their petitions in Springfield alongside hundreds of candidates for the state legislature, judicial vacancies and more.

After the filing period ends on Dec. 2, candidates' petitions may be subject to objections based on the validity of their signatures - a method some campaigns use in an attempt to kick opponents off the ballot. If any candidate falls below the required number of signatures to run (ranging from 500 for state representatives to 7,300 for offices like state's attorney or Circuit Court clerk), they can no longer appear on the ballot. This system means that candidates often collect well beyond the total number of signatures needed as a precaution, and can sometimes drastically change the landscape of a race. 

After the objection period, election officials will hold two lotteries to determine ballot order: pulling names from all who submitted their petitions on the first day to determine the first spots on the ballot, then pulling from those who submitted in the final hour on the last day to determine who will be at the bottom.

The filing period that began Monday does not include presidential candidates, who file their petitions in January.

The primary election will be held on March 17, 2020, ahead of the general election in November.

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